Houseplants, Plants, Propagation, Uncategorized

Houseplants

Blame it on the winter weather, blame it on Instagram, blame it on Jane Perrone and her brilliant On the Ledge podcast… Actually I think I have only myself to blame – it was only a matter of time before my plant obsession came indoors…

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Yes, I have succumbed to the charms of houseplants.

I have resisted in the past as they honestly didn’t interest me that much; I have had a handful for a while which I have either been given or were picked up when I took pity on them in the bargain basement section of the local DIY store.  I have ignored them a lot, watering sporadically, allowing the dust to collect, and they’ve mostly survived, despite the neglect.  I’ve taken little interest in them in garden centres, plant fairs, books and magazines.

But something has changed in the past few weeks and I’m looking at houseplants with a fresh, and somewhat lustful, eye.

Monstera delisiosa Philodendron                                                                                                                                                      More

Monstera deliciosa – image courtesy of Pinterest

I mean, who couldn’t love a plant with the name Monstera deliciosa.

We had one of these, growing up in a bungalow in Northern Ireland in the 80s.  It’s also known as the Swiss Cheese Plant.  The leaves are whole when they begin to grow and then later develop the ‘swiss cheese’ holes.  I want one now for my own house – a really big one. I would put it in the dining room and polish its leaves lovingly.  See, my attitude to houseplants is definitely shifting…

Binge-listening to On The Ledge certainly hasn’t helped – Jane and her guests discuss various houseplant related issues and the podcast is full of top tips and helpful advice for getting the most out of indoor gardening.  I recently listened to Jane and James Wong enthuse about ‘Dr H’ and his House Plant Expert book – one of the many books in Dr Hessayon’s ‘Expert’ range.  The next day I was in town for a meeting and decided to kill some time in one of the local charity shops (I always make a beeline for the gardening books – there are always gardening books in charity shops).  What did I find?  The new (well, 1980s!), updated bumper edition of Dr Hessayon’s House Plant Expert, plus another excellent guide with lots of useful photos, written by Matt Biggs of GQT fame.  Both of these cost me just £5!

I’ve also invested in Alys Fowler’s ‘Plant Love’ , which I think I would be tempted to buy even if I wasn’t newly-obsessed with houseplants as it’s a really beautiful book.

I’m already loving learning about a whole new genre of plants, and as well as picking up a couple of waifs at B&Q (a sorry looking Guzmania and a yet-to-be-identified but healthy looking possible ficus) I’m also growing my own.  Yes, yet another way I can indulge my love of sowing and growing.  There’s a sowalong happening over at On The Ledge so I’m joining in by growing Pelargonium ‘Attar of Roses’ and Sempervivum tectorum, otherwise known as houseleeks.

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Seeds of Pelargonium ‘Attar of Roses’

The pelargonium seeds are AMAZING.  They have twisty tails which wind and unwind according to the moisture of the soil, helping them to bury themselves into it and then germinate.  AMAZING.

And the joy of houseplants is that even when the weather is not great for gardening outside, you can still care for and take joy from your indoor plants.  Today has been a great example of this; we are currently in the grip of the Beast from the East – a Siberian snow storm which has dumped about a foot of snow on us and closed schools and workplaces.  Gardening is out of the question – but today I managed to get my hands dirty and do some propagation, sowing the Sempervivum seeds and splitting and re-potting a large Aloe vera.

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I commandeered the laundry room floor for some indoor gardening

Instagram is currently heaving with trendy photos of fashionable houseplants – it’s the New Thing in gardening.  Am I being brainwashed?  Possibly.  Am I jumping on the bandwagon?  Maybe.  Do I care?  No!  I’m looking forward to growing my collection of beautiful houseplants – glossy green foliage, strappy variegated leaves, delicate flowers and patterns – and taking my own trendy photos to post on Instagram!

#plantaddict #sorrynotsorry

 

 

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flowers, Grow Your Own, Plants, Secret Garden, Vegetables

Mr Smith

As promised in my previous post, just a few hours ago, I grabbed the opportunity to get out into the garden and I’m pleased to say it was a productive afternoon and evening.

I had to dodge a few showers but I managed to plant out pea seedlings, as well as sowing new pea seeds.  I also sowed early carrots, lettuce and rocket under a fleece mini-tunnel (the only one of two which survived the recent high winds).  In the same bed there was one square space remaining so I constructed a makeshift obelisk from some branches foraged from the woods just behind us (fallen, not cut!) and sowed a few remaining sweet pea seeds beneath it, with the help of my smallest daughter, who loves to pick the flowers.

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Pea seedlings

AND just before the light fell, I also filled in some space at the top of the potato bed with a few broccoli seeds – a bit of an experiment as I haven’t grown it before and, to be honest, we don’t eat much broccoli.  I reckon whether it’s successful or not, the chickens will benefit from these plants the most!

Phew – I got quite a lot done with the bit of time I had and am feeling quite satisfied that I’ve got a few seeds and seedlings into the earth today.

A word about my companion when I am sowing or growing vegetables – Mr Smith.  After we moved in here and I acquired the raised beds in the Secret Garden, my Dad bestowed upon me his copy of ‘Mr Smith’s Vegetable Garden’.

My Dad has been using this book since he began growing his own vegetables many years ago and swears by it as a very simple, straightforward guide to how to grow most veggies in your garden or allotment.  For each vegetable, Mr Smith lists the basic guidelines for How to Grow, possible Pests and Diseases and Storage and Kitchen Hints, plus a few simple line drawings for a bit of illustration.  I have just checked the front cover and the book was first published in 1976 (as well as a reprint in 1977 – the year I was born!) and the advice and guidance in it is as relevant now as it was then.  The book looks old-fashioned, but then I have a weak spot for ‘vintage’ gardening books – something I will definitely share in a future post…

Clearly Dad thought I could find the book as useful as he did as a reference point – and I do. Every year at this time I know I will bring out the book to check guidance for sowing my veg.  I don’t know who Mr Smith was – the Monty Don of his day perhaps – but he’s an excellent guide and adviser when it comes to growing your own vegetables.

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